No. 671 is a towing or motor car, and half of one of ten ‘Twin Cars’ created in 1960/1. Originally numbered 281, the tram had started life as a streamlined English Electric Railcoach dating from
July 1935 and was rebuilt by Blackpool Corporation into its present form between April and November 1960. In its new guise it entered service as a single motor car in January 1961 and was later
paired with trailer T1 of 1960.
Originally the towing cars were designed to be capable of operation either on their own or with a trailer. In practice this proved awkward, and the sets soon became semi-permanently attached generally running on a loop to loop basis due to the absence of driving controls in the trailers. During September and October 1962, 281+T1 became a prototype for permanently coupling the Twin cars, and the inner end cab controls from 281 were relocated to the outer end of T1, now meaning that the set could reverse anywhere on the system. Seven Twin cars would eventually be permanently coupled, leaving the final three in original form. One of these three was 279 (later 679), which is also in our collection but restored back to its 1935 streamlined appearance.
281+T1 were repainted into green/cream livery from the original cream in November 1964, and in 1968 they were renumbered to 671+681, however they were to continue in use in their 1964 paint job until the end of the 1989 season. In January 1990 the set was overhauled and repainted into a new livery of cream with green roof and skirt. 671 was fitted with a pantograph and the set returned to use at Easter 1991. The remaining six sets followed over the next three years.
In July 1997 671+681 were involved in a serious collision with Centenary car 644, with 681 suffering considerable front-end damage and 671 also sustaining damage from the shunt. 671 was repaired during the summer of 1998 with 681 following in November. The set was returned to service in June 1999, almost two years after the accident.
In March 2003 671+681 were fitted with heaters, low voltage head and tail lamps, and repainted into a green and yellow Metro coastlines livery. This work, which was extended to the first five Twin cars, was necessitated as they were stepped up to front line service that year after track defects saw double deck trams barred from running to Fleetwood for two seasons.
As part of the rundown of the traditional fleet prior to the tramway upgrade, 671+681 were withdrawn in October 2010. The Twin set was initially acquired by Merseytravel for a proposed scheme on the Wirral and moved to a storage yard in Knowsley in December 2011. However, 671 returned to Blackpool in February the following year now in the care of the Lancastrian (now Fylde) Transport Trust, separating the tram from its trailer, and it spent three years in a yard in Marton. In 2015, 671 finally made it back home to Rigby Road depot in a deal which saw ownership transfer to the Blackpool Heritage Trust (BHT). However, the merger of the BHT with the FTT in late 2019 meant that 671 was once again a member of the FTT’s collection. The tram is currently stored in an unserviceable state, awaiting a decision on its future – but it would be an ideal candidate for a future restoration to its 1961 condition as a double ended towing car.